Tag Archives: The Writing Life

Go to it! (Pursue what makes you come alive!)

I read the most touching article last week. Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a well known children’s author and filmmaker. It was titled, “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” It was written along the lines of a match.com profile, and it described the charms, kindnesses, and deep expressions of love her husband had shown her over their 26-year marriage.

Eight days later, Amy, 51, would pass away from ovarian cancer.

Tragic, yes, but what I discovered about Amy after reading the article made me think of my RMFW friends, and the joys and challenges inherent with the creative path we’ve all chosen.

One of Amy’s tenets was included in her obituary. “I tend to believe whatever you decide to look for you will find, whatever you beckon will eventually beckon you,” she said during a 2012 TED talk.

I watched that TED talk and her message inspired me, so I am sharing it with you.

Amy begins by talking about coincidences such as the proliferation of “7” in our lives—seven days in the week, seven colors in the rainbow, seven wonders of the world. Seven music notes. Her TED talk is called “Seven Notes on Life.”

She mentioned walking the beach with her mother-in-law, when she discovered a heart-shaped pebble. Once she had seen that first one, she looked for another, and found many heart-shaped pebbles. Her mother-in-law was astonished, but Amy was not. She had observed many times that we find that which we seek out. “When our eyes are open, there is a subtle shifting of awareness.”

To demonstrate, she told the TED audience that she would imagine that she was speaking to a totally red audience, and once she focused on that, she would see instantly all the red clothing there.

She went through the seven musical notes. “F” stood for, “Figure it out as you go.” We don’t have to have it all mapped out before we embark on something new. Get a good idea, invest in it, and learn and adjust as we go.

These thoughts and others inspired me, but what left the lasting impression—the one that made me feel connected to you, my RMFW friends, was this: All the cell phones, iPads, laptops, and other technical devices create a huge amount of technical “noise” in our lives. All that modern noise demands something from us—a reaction.  Once we turn off the cell phones and all the technical “noise” in our lives, we become disconnected from the chatter, and are left with empty space. And what do we find in that newly empty space?

It is no coincidence, she pointed out, that with the individual letters rearranged, another important word emerges from “reaction.”

REACTION {changes to} ….. CREATION.

She ended the talk with a quote from Howard Thurman:

Ask not what the world needs.

            Ask what makes you come alive.

            And go to it.

What we need is people who have come alive. What, Amy asked, makes you come alive?

Go to it. Move toward what makes you come alive.


A Chicago native and longtime resident, Rosenthal completed more than 30 books, including journals, memoirs and the best-selling picture stories “Uni the Unicorn” and “Duck! Rabbit!” She made short films and YouTube videos, gave TED talks and provided radio commentary for NPR, among others. Her loving optimism will be missed.

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.777097

The TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxWgIccldh4

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To the best actress: a vampire breast lift

What the Oscars reveal about good writingOscar

As Oscar Night nears, I’ve been movie viewing. Two years ago I decided I had approached this awards night unprepared too many times. Movie after movie was highlighted and praised, and too often my viewed flicks were limited to Disney and Pixar.

Then our daughters left home and I found myself no longer watching any theater movies at all.

My new MO is to list the Best Picture nominees and see as many as I can before the show. My current tally: 6 viewed, 2 still on the list.

I started with The Revenant (Leonardo DiCaprio). A “revenant,” BTW, is someone who comes back from the dead. Based on the true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass, it’s the story of a man who, after being mauled by a bear, is stripped of his weapons and left to die in the wilderness by his friends.  Message for Novelists (MFN): Man Against Nature plots still work. Also, with an appropriate Author Note, the plotline of stories based on a true story can be massaged and altered to give a more complete character arc. (No spoilers, but after viewing the movie, look up the true story of Glass and see how they tweaked the ending.)

Next up was Bridge of Spies (Tom Hanks,  Stephen Spielberg).  With this talent, I knew it had to be good. Based on the true story of attorney James Donovan, which makes it even more incredible and appreciated. No tweaking with the story for arc’s sake—Donovan really was amazing. MFN: Look to this and similar true stories for inspiration, because they successfully define “hero.”

Then I saw Brooklyn (Saoirse Ronan) and fell in love with love. This is the romantic’s romance, a beautiful love story oozing with the charm, uncertainties and sacrifices of a bygone era. MFN: Love is timeless, and the movie reminds us that plotlines need not be complicated, convoluted or sensational to make a reader care, to make a reader cry.

The Big Short (Brad Pitt) surprised me. It tells the story of the banking industry’s collapse in 2008. From first glance, it seemed to be a distasteful topic. Who would want to revisit a flaming failure that left the middle class people bleeding, unemployed and homeless? MFN: The screenwriters triumphed with this by demonstrating that with care and creativity, a complicated story can be told in layman’s terms so everyone can understand it. I’ll still need to view it a few more times, just to absorb it all, but it’s a movie everyone with assets should see.

Spotlight (Michael Keaton) tells the story of the in-depth news team from The Boston Globe that broke the 2001 story of an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. I admire films that tell the story after the fact. Everyone enters the theatre knowing the ending, so the strength of the story has to lie in the story’s middle. This film is classified as a drama/thriller, and the creativity and strategy with which the team overcame obstacles to find the truth may inspire writers of mystery and intrigue.

Room (Brie Larson) is another inspirational survival story, but with a twist. Jacob Tremblay is magnificent, an outstanding new child star. Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue. MFN: a static setting is not at all boring when presented with a compelling character study and the bond of mother and child.  A memorable example of really getting into the skin of your characters. It’s definitely a book I’d like to read.

My journey continues as Oscar Night nears. Oh, and about the Vampire Breast Lift? It’s one of the gifts in the goodie bags that will be distributed to all the nominees. I’m sure the topic will be raised during the awards program.

What’s your pick for Best Film?

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50 Shades of Happy

… the final installment of my happiness series.

Did you try the “Three Acts of Gratitude” exercise? The Fun Fifteen? (See my Feb. 20 blog.)    If so, did these simple strategies nudge you up a step on the happiness scale?

Happiness is Free Feb 2016

I tried it. It didn’t launch me into euphoria, but it did instill a quiet happiness inside me, an inner strength that made each day a little easier, a little brighter.

When happy, our creativity triples. Be grateful for the simple things in life, recall specifics about them, and this daily practice will retrain your brain to see the world in a brighter light. Think of one positive experience in your last 24 hours, day after day, and it will empower you to find new meaning in your life.

Simple but powerful stuff.

I started this happiness journey because my life was feeling flat. I felt my options slipping away, as if I had been given X number of days left to live and that all the pleasant surprises and opportunities I would ever receive had already been sent—and there would be no more.

These exercises (Gratitude and Fun Fifteen) reminded me that the joys and pleasant surprises of life were still gracing my days. Once I started focusing on happiness, some sunny and cumulative effects began occurring.

Returning to the topic of the first installment of this series, first find happiness in yourself, and then go forward to claim success. Don’t wait for “success” to make you happy because luck can be erratic, unpredictable or nonexistent. Be happy, and then go forward with your dreams.

Here are some new book releases with tips that may help you sustain happiness:

THE GRATITUDE DIARIES: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan—how living gratefully leads to a richer, more fulfilling life.

BROADCASTING HAPPINESS: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change by Michelle Gielan

RISING STRONG: THE RECKONING. THE RUMBLE. THE REVOLUTION, wherein social scientist Brene Brown takes us through the process of getting back up after stumbling and falling.

I’m wishing you good luck and much happiness in your life journey!



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4 Ways to Boost Happiness–and your goals

Are you happy? How do you feel right now? Anxious, worried? If you’re feeling less than stellar, read on for tips on 4 ways to boost happiness and regain the joy in what we do, be it writing, planning, creating or producing. We can boost happiness by establishing a few simple daily habits–very important, for we can think best when we’re happy.

Get Stay Happy Feb 2016 copy

Because we naturally store negative events in a deeper, more permanent way than positive experiences, there is a dismaying propensity to embed the negative ones. We can overcome that by investing extra effort to focus on our good experiences.

Shawn Achor, head of Goodthink and author of The Happiness Advantage, talks about how we have been fed the life formula of “Success First, Happiness Second.” If we can just get published, we’ll be happy. If we can just get a higher advance we’ll be happy. If we can just win the Golden Heart or the (fill in the blank Award), we’ll be happy. If we can just lose twenty pounds, we’ll be happy.

It’s a formula that doesn’t work, because as we achieve one thing, we set the bar higher and keep chasing that next goal. The formula keeps repeating in our heads, eroding that delicate happiness state for which we worked so hard.

Achor says we’ve got it all backwards. We should not be gaining success to be happy; we should find happiness, which will help us to succeed. Happiness and optimism, she says, is what fuels the success! Positive brains are more motivated, efficient, and creative. Achor quotes John Milton from Paradise Lost: “The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Think of that. Your mind is beautiful. Powerful. Are we focusing on the joy and rewards of writing, or are we hung up on the difficulties, the competition, the stress, or lack of appropriate rewards?

* * * * * * *

“The Mind is its own place, and in itself

can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

* * * * * * *

How do we get happy, and stay there? We needn’t become zombie smile fanatics, but think of the boost we get from talking to an optimistic, happy person. Like some giant, woot-woot magnet, that type of person attracts people, and their happiness is contagious. Short of hiring a talented clown as a full-time body guard, though, how do we “get” and “stay” happy?

In a Denver Post interview with Achor, he gives some suggestions. If you’ve read something similar before and forgotten it after you walked away from the magazine or newspaper, don’t walk away now. Read these tips. Re-read them, and think about how you can integrate some of these behaviors and methods, so you can be happy, and then be successful.

Three Acts of Gratitude. Just two minutes a day, write down three new things for which you’re grateful. Do it for 21 days. The frequency and repetition are powerful because you’re training your brain and, in doing so, will begin to see the world with fresh, happiness-inspiring eyes. Achor warns about generalities, because they don’t work. Rather than “My health,” my kids, my home,” etc., be specific: “I’m grateful for my daughter because she called to ask my opinion. What I think matters to her.” Or, “I’m grateful because I was alert and caught the fine print in that contract, before I signed it.”

The Doubler. Again, for two minutes a day, think of one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. You’re a writer, so I know you can provide details about it. This can double the most meaningful experience in your brain. Doing it for 21 days will help your brain connect the dots, and you will begin to see and feel the meaning that runs through your life.

The Fun Fifteen. 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day is, Achor says, the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant. With successful completion of just 15 minutes, your brain records a victory, which carries over into your next activity.

Breathe. For two minutes become conscious of your breath going in and out. Fill your lungs, be aware. This has been proven to raise accuracy rates and increase levels of happiness. And drops stress levels.

Happiness, Achor says, is a huge advantage in our lives. When the human brain is positive our intelligence rises. We stop diverting resources to think about anxiety.

Our creativity triples.

More to come on this topic next Wednesday. I’ll be asking you if you tried the Three Acts of Gratitude, the Fun Fifteen, and the Breathing. Give it a try, and let’s meet again and compare notes.

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Face-to-face praise — you deserve an Oscar

You deserve an Oscar!

You deserve an Oscar!

We DVR’d The Oscars last night and watched the second half, which was fabulous.  I admired the set, which is always so elaborate, but seemed especially misty and dreamy this year.  What really inspired me, though, was when five Oscar-winning actresses appeared on stage and personally delivered praise to the nominees for Best Actress.  Incredible!

Some say this was awkward when Sophia Loren paid tribute to living legend Meryl Streep, but I thought it was wonderful to hear why they were nominated, and what the Academy felt they had accomplished with their roles.

As writers, we hope to accomplish many of the same goals that these actresses achieved – effectively conveying the emotion of loss, suffering, triumph.

Let’s don our imagination hat today, writers: close your eyes, create this glamorous stage in your mind, and see the television cameras that will broadcast this moment to millions of people.  You are sitting there, and Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Michael Crighton and Scott Turow step onto the stage in a column of spotlight, and one of them turns to you and says, “Your characters are so finely drawn that I slipped right into your story.  Your plot was amazing, and your ability to evoke emotions impressed me, from the first page to the last.”

Ahhhhh.  Do you feel it, that golden, magic aura?  It slips right into your bones and kisses your soul!  Yessssss!  This is one example in life where I wouldn’t at all mind being one of the losers.

Praise yourself for your strengths and accomplishments.  I’m wishing you a great day of writing!

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Give yourself permission to write

keepwordscominggraphic1A few years ago I attended New York Literary Agent Donald Maass’s one-day workshop, “Writing the Breakout Novel,” hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Maass would give us some kind of writing prompt, then he would instruct, “Now, write!” and we would all drop our gazes to our paper or keyboards and do just that.  At one point, he made a joke of it.  He said, “Now, write!” and all our heads bobbed to our papers.  Then he said, “Stop writing” and we all looked up. Then he said, “Now write!” Half of the writers dropped their heads down dutifully to their papers, while the other half caught on to his tactic and laughed.  After strutting around a little (he does an amusing Elvis impersonation), he asked us why we had to rely on him to give ourselves permission to write.

Why do the words flow so much more smoothly when we’re instructed to write?  Why can’t we summon up that free flow ourselves when we face a new scene or challenging re-write session?

Two parts discipline and one part inspiration, I’m guessing.  It could also be the hum of creativity that swirls when a room is filled with writers.  I’ve discovered a strategy to harness the energy and creativity and keep the words coming.  Borrowing from Anne Randolph’s “Soup Kitchen Writing,” we started a “soupies” writing group from willing members of our on-line critique group.  Every Thursday we meet from 6 to 9 pm, enjoy some soup and conversation for a half hour, and write for the remaining time.

This communal writing environment gives us permission to write.  We enjoy our soup, then someone sets a one-hour alarm, and we write.  It’s amazing how quickly the alarm goes off.  We take a five minute break and set the alarm again.  After it goes off the second time, we visit briefly and take whatever time we have left to wrap up.

One writer friend has added her own twist to the concept: coffee instead of soup.

The menu isn’t important.  The camaraderie is.

If distractions, free-floating anxiety, or lack of focus have been taking a toll on your writing productivity, try a soup night.  Or coffee night.  Or ice cream night. Invite some writer friends, gather at the kitchen table with your laptops and watch your pages fill up!


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Savvy author also a savvy promoter

Law's YA debut novel

Law's YA debut novel

I spotted an interesting article in the Rocky Mountain News today.  A Colorado YA writer, Ingrid Law, learned her debut novel, Savvy (Dial Books, Walden Media), was named a runner-up for the prestigious Newbury Award. To celebrate, Law went grocery shopping.  She loaded her cart with canned and fresh goods for the Food Bank.  “When good things happen, you need to keep putting that good energy out there,” Law said.

In addition to creating a pay-it-forward way to celebrate her good fortune and share her abundance, Law applied a “savvy” marketing technique, doing good and letting other people know about it.  Kudos to Law on her creative promotion, and her generosity.

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How to find an agent

How to Find the Perfect Mate                bookinheart
…I mean, Agent
by Janet Lane

Over the years I’ve met over a hundred agents in person at conferences.  These person-to-person exchanges have a lot in common with speed dating (or at least what I’ve gleaned about it from first-hand accounts from friends).

Picture me in a sea with hundreds of other writers, seated in chairs mysteriously too narrow for our hips, where we all project our authorly best in dress, demeanor and posture.  Above us, seated in a formation reminiscent of the medieval High Table, the agents chat and laugh among themselves, preparing to answer our industry questions.

From my narrow chair I balance my coffee and conference program and consider external clues.  Hmm, agent number one looks as young as my daughter.  Cashmere sweater, Steve Madden heels–from Bryn Mawr, or one of the other Seven Sisters colleges?  MFA?  Would that give her more literary than commercial contacts? The second agent is dressed in a sleek suit and wears her hair severely swept back – is she as clever and sophisticated with her client list and editor contacts as she is with her appearance?  Agent three’s shoulders are stooped and she wears thick glasses, poking at her Blackberry non-stop.  Could she be one of those dedicated, over-worked agents who relishes months and months of editing before she subs a manuscript to an editor?  And, OMG, agent four looks as old as I am.  Will she fall in love with my stories, or is she so jaded from having considered thousands of manuscripts over the years that she’s seen everything, and the stories all run together in her mind?  A question and answer session follows, and we hear the quality of their voices, listening for confidence, arrogance, indifference, enthusiasm, optimism and reassurance that he or she really wants to consider new stories.

As in our search for a mate, we want to avoid wasting time pursuing someone who may be unavailable.  What does their website say about “currently seeking?”  What is not mentioned that might be significant?  Do they even have a website?  Are they really in Denver looking for new clients, or did they just want to visit with the attending editors?  Have they been in business long enough to sell books and do a good job of representing authors?  If they pass my test and I deem them desirable, is my work good enough for them?

It’s finally time for the agent appointment.  Ten minutes in a busy room with hopeful writers buzzing the tables like bees in a botanical garden.  All those other writers look good–smartly dressed, tall, composed, their faces filled with self-confident smiles, their hands with note cards and their voices animated with enthusiasm about their stories.  I settle in the chair, trying to plant my feet on the floor, and fumble with my conference bag, purse, and bookmarks (realizing suddenly that it would be tacky to share bookmarks right now).  The old high school feelings return with a vengeance, and I’m not talking about the pretty ones.  Sweating pits, hands that can’t seem to find a comfortable place to rest, eyelashess that flutter against my will, lungs that lock and a heavy tongue twisted into three of the most reliable Girl Scout knots.  Yeah, this is fun.

Time’s up, and I forgot to mention what makes my story unique. Heck, I would have forgotten the title had she not asked.  And OMG, I gave her the bookmark, after all.  She returns it with an indulgent smile and hands me her card.  But what does it all mean?  I get up to leave, manage to shake her hand, and leave with a major case of ping-pong brain.

Don’t like speed-dating?  Just as the old-fashioned ways of dating – double-dates, blind-dates, group-dates – have given way to such practices as Internet dating and speed-dating, there are also new ways to find the perfect agent.  Ed Hickok wrote about Query Tracker in last month’s issue of the Rocky Mountain Writer in his excellent article, Netting an Agent.  I agree with his assessment that it’s a great tool.  Other on-line resources include publishersmarketplace.com where current sales are recorded, along with the editor and agent involved in each transaction.

Another resource is networking within our own organization.  One powerhouse networker I know is RMFW’s own Karen Duvall, who frequently lists interesting marketing articles on our RMFW yahoogroup loop.  One such tip she listed recently was an article from the Poets and Writers website, an interview with Julie Barer (Barer Lit), Jeff Kleinman (Folio Lit), Renee Zuckerbrot , and Daniel Lazar (Writer’s House).   The link, which has proven to be about 50% reliable, is http://www.pw.org/content/agents_and_editors_qampa_four_young_literary_agents
The article is long, but fascinating.  I’ve condensed some of the more interesting points for you below, but a verbatim read is worth your time.  With thanks to Karen, here are some pertinent gems gleaned from that interview that may help when launching your own “dating rituals.”

What agents are looking for
Barer: The book that makes me miss my subway stop.
Zuckerbrot: It’s their voice … how they use words … how they slow things down … build up to a scene.
Lazar: show me new worlds or re-create the ones I already know.
Kleinman: Oh my God. … So-and-so would love this.  (A specific editor comes to mind.)
Agents also shop for clients in literary magazines, conference publications, Friendster, asking for recommendations from professors of MFA programs, from reading short stories and–yes, the slush pile.

Queries shouldn’t be on pink paper, shouldn’t mention all the characters in the book, shouldn’t begin with “Dear Agent” and shouldn’t mention who the writer would cast in the movie version.  Query letters shouldn’t promise millions of copies in sales or be laced with desperation.

Problems with beginning writers
* wandering, unfocused story, or one that doesn’t start until page 5 (or 20 or 40).
* submitting a story before it’s ready (polish, polish, polish).
* they write a generic-sounding query and don’t list their credentials.
* don’t understand that the first 20 pages count more than anything.

Their ideal client
* In addition to being gifted, participates in the marketing process
* Writes about a subject matter that appeals to a specific audience (makes marketing easier).

Adjust your expectations (fantasies)
In-house support means an editor who’s passionate about the book, and a publicist who’s willing to put his or her reputation on the line for the book.  A book needs entire team support to succeed, and that’s very hard to get.  A publishing house gives substantial support to just a few books every season.  In reality, it’s a lottery.  That said, agents can help with suggestions, and some agencies even have marketing support teams in-house to help a book along.  (A good question to ask during the courtship period.)

The editor’s role
The agents talked at length about the degree to which editors edit these days.  In the past, a book might have been a “three” and the editor would buy it and bring it up to a “ten” for publication.  These days, the book needs to be at least a six or seven before they’ll make an offer.

What beginning writers should avoid
* speaking or writing negatively about an editor or agent.
* telephoning excessively.  Make it one organized, thoughtful communication.
* inadequately communicating about your future projects.
* blogging indiscriminately before you’re published – stuff floats around interminably on the Internet.

Don’t be desperate

You may have heard the saying, “There’s nothing worse than a desperate woman.”  Pretty embarrassing to see this in action, a woman so insecure and needy that she becomes a doormat for men who have no intention of wedding her.  There is something worse: a writer, so desperate to find an agent that they don’t care who represents them, as long as they have a pulse and it says, “Literary Agent” on their business card.

There is something worse than not being represented, too, and that’s being represented by the wrong agent.  As writers serious about our careers and committed to our success, we need a good match. To get that, we need to be active, not passive little puppies who roll over and say, “Help me, help me.”  Be an active consumer with this important decision in your writing life.  What happens if you’re passive?  Ask C. J. Box, whose agent was dead for several months before he finally called him and found out why he wasn’t contact him with a deal.  Ask any of the multi-published founding members of RMFW – Kay Bergstrom, Sharon Mignerey, Jasmine Cresswell, Chris Jorgensen – what can happen if you get the wrong agent.  Be a smart consumer.

And how to find the perfect agent for you? The Internet’s wealth of information has been demonstrated, but the old courtship methods have their strengths, as well.  Information, more easily obtained than in the past, gives us a chance to build an expansive file about an agent’s preferences, track record, and even a candid glimpse of their responses in such casual interviews as this one.  But the human connection –  voice inflections, eye contact, that gut-feeling derived only from in-person communication – helps us determine if we like the person, and if we can trust sharing the future of our stories with them.  Use every tool available to you, and good luck in your search for that special agent or editor!


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To the unsung heroes who embrace our dreams

JR, my 'Patron of the Arts'

JR, my 'Patron of the Arts'

“No man is an island,” but especially for those of us in the arts, a dream can seldom be achieved in a vacuum. Most of us have or have had someone who encourages us when we need it, supports us emotionally, financially, socially, mentally–any or all of the above.

Pity them. Most of them didn’t ask for the job, but rather had it foisted upon them when we decided, at some point in our lives, that we wanted to write a novel.

Talk about being blind-sided! How nice, they said at first. A novel. A little pecking on the keyboard now and then, ruminating, reflecting, and then the agent takes it from there and we’ll collect royalties.

Instead, much like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, they found themselves chasing a mystifying and often annoying creature whom they thought they knew well.

Writers. God love us ‘cause we’re one mega short of a byte. Our Patron of the Arts wannabes are left shaking their heads when we hand off our Coors Light to them at a party, leave a conversation mid-sentence and rush to the car to scribble down scene notes. When we forget to pick up Junior after soccer because we’re figuring out a way the killer can dispose of the body and still catch Flight 218 to London. Or when we run into the truck in front of us in traffic, puncturing the radiator, because we’re rehearsing our hero’s marriage proposal.

It’s not that we’re antisocial. We can’t control the Muse when it hits, or when it abandons us, so what if we drink a little, trying to coax her back? (Sorry about that broken ice luge, Honey.) We might get nervous, too, when we have a proposal or query letter in the mail. We might pace. We might even resort to smoking. Hell’s bells, we’re on deadline! Release the dams. If the Muse abandons us, we’ll chew nails, stick twenty-seven Post-it notes about plot on the headboard and greet dawn still staring at the monitor. We’ll eat seventeen Twinkies in a row or read quotes from Maharishi Mahesh if it’ll prime the pump.

So what if our moods swings make Britney Spears seem stable? Depending on the incoming mail, we’re perfectly capable of doing an impromptu Venus Williams jump-dance (no matter the setting) or bawling our eyes out on the backyard glider. It’s not our fault. We’re totally at the mercy of the judges. Or editors. Yeah, all those $@(!%* people with the power, because we have none, and we get a little cranky about it, so watch your tone when you say “royalties.” Repeat after me, “We *love* two-for-one coupons at McDonald’s, and free samples lunch on Fridays at Sam’s Club is mighty tasty.”

My husband has abandoned the “fight” side of the “fight or flight” option. He gave it a valiant try one year, attending the Rocky Mountain Fiction Wrirers’ summer picnic.  Deluged with a foreign language, he retreated.  What’s the matter with him?  Wat’s so threatening about Deus ex machina, CRMs, remainders, galleys, ARCs, blurbs and em-dashes? Guess it didn’t go well with his mayo because now he seems to grow wings for his “flight” pattern each year when picnic time rolls around.

Then there’s conferences, a kind of Woodstock-for-the-Bookies, a loll in Fiction-Land, a Literary Love-in where writers flock in a shameless communion of lectures, lamentations, levity and liquor, all conducted in that same jargon-laden vocabulary that addles our mates’ minds.

Even vacations aren’t sacred. The unsuspecting Patron of the Arts might join you on a cross-country trip to view the fall colors in Vermont, only to be taken on a 500-mile side trip to Kansas – with a teething toddler – so you can add authenticity to your description of a farm in Kansas. Or she might not-so-enthusiastically agree to being dragged up a fourteener so you can determine if scree is indeed slippery enough that a 120-pound villain could push the hero off the mountain.

They support us when the book sells, and when it doesn’t. They’re with us when sales are good, or bad. Their support is one of life’s true gifts.

They love us in spite of ourselves. Loyal to the end, they indulge our manic need to visit yet another book store, or endure long critique sessions when we invade their living rooms on an otherwise serene Saturday. They might lovingly video a book signing or workshop so we can promote our latest book, and sacrifice in countless other ways so we may pursue our writing dreams.

It is in honor of our true life heroes that I write today, and it is with the deepest appreciation for my own Patron of the Arts that I propose we give this award to our unsung heroes, if for no other reason than they can read something we write — with love and dedication — to them.

Janet hereby nominates her DH, John, for Patron of the Arts. He has supported her writer’s dream for ten years.


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